Criticized Navy security system also did not deliver promised cost savings
The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville
The security system employed by all three local Navy bases to control entry for non-military personnel was presented as a “low-cost, no-cost solution.” But it could be costing the bases millions of dollars with little payoff in security.
The system was attacked last week in a military report that found the background checks conducted by the RAPIDGate system to be so inadequate that scores of felons gained improper access to Naval installations.
The Eid Passport system, RAPIDGate, was considered to be of minimal cost to the Navy because, instead of requiring government personnel to process passes, Eid Passport would bill contractors directly for their employees’ passes.
The Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) prevented companies from charging that expense to their Navy contracts. So, the contractors found other ways to bill the Navy — for instance, adding the cost for the security passes to such other accounts as “overhead,” according to an investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General released last week.
The result made it all but impossible to determine how much the program was costing the taxpayer.
But the cost is anything but invisible, according to the Inspector General report that recommended the immediate replacement of Eid Passport and its RAPIDGate system.
“[T]he cost reportedly absorbed by contractors to obtain RAPIDGate credentials are transferred back to the Navy in the form of higher contract overhead costs and other contract fees,” according to a Navy cost analysis report. “[RAPIDGate] credentials could cost potentially 10 times as much as Common Access Cards [the standard military ID card] over a 10-year period.”
Specifically, the DoD report found 17 contractors alone had charged the Navy $1.28 million in overhead costs to offset the cost of RAPIDGate. Though it was not clear whether these companies were representative of all 30,702 companies enrolled in the program as of March 1, 2013, at that rate, the Navy’s cost for RAPIDGate would be more than $2 billion.
The CNIC ordered implementation of RAPIDGate in 2010. Eid Passport has seen profits increase 424 percent over the last three years, according to the company’s website.
In addition to the unforeseen costs of the program, security concerns have also come to light, which the Times-Union reported Saturday.
Security at the bases has been a concern since a civilian contractor shot and killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard on Sept. 16. The Inspector General’s damning report about the RAPIDGate system also was published that day, though the gunman did not use a RAPIDGate pass to enter.
Investigators visited 10 of the 61 Navy bases in the continental U.S., Hawaii and the Mariana islands in the Southwest Pacifiic Ocean. Out of only those 10 unidentified bases, 52 convicted felons were allowed access for periods ranging from 62 to 1,035 days each.
Among those felons was one with a felony conviction for “indecent liberties with a child.” The convict was allowed 91 days of unescorted access before the felony was caught by Eid Passport’s third-party background check.
Schools, family housing and child development centers are located on many Navy installations, the report noted.
Another employee convicted of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine was given 1,035 days of base access until his history was finally caught.
Only two of the bases visited by investigators were in the Navy’s Southeast Region that encompasses 15 bases, including Mayport, NAS Jacksonville and Kings Bay Naval Submarine base.
Eight felons were found to have been allowed access to the two bases visited in the Southeast Region, which were not specifically identified.
In response, the Navy said Monday that RAPIDGate had been used to vet more than 290,0000 contractors, vendors and suppliers and had prevented more than 27,000 from gaining access.
The Inspector General’s report concluded the CNIC officials restricted full and open competition by giving the job to Eid Passport and disregarding another company that applied, despite the knowledge of Eid Passport’s background-check loopholes.
In addition, the report found Eid Passport has operated without a contract, against Navy policy, since November 2011. This means the Navy has no recourse if Eid Passport fails to live up to its obligations, the Inspector General concluded.
The report recommends an independent review of the CNIC department responsible for oversight of Eid Passport and administrative action.
“Eid” stands for either employee or electronic identification; the name is not a reference to the Islamic holidays.